Western Ohio and Indiana

Route 30 in Ohio is mostly a dual carriageway but there are segments of the old road through various communities and at times, alongside the big road. Our first stop this morning was Bucyrus which has a large mural entitled ‘America at the Crossroads’. The garden in front is looked after by the local Rotary Club and two people were tidying it up and we got chatting. The woman told me that local people had been used as models for the people in the mural. We got into politics on both sides of the pond and the local economy. The man said that his son farmed 12,000 acres ‘..that’s not a farm, that’s a corporation’.
Mural Bucyrus OH 30 June 2016-1
In a nearby café, another local was at pains to tell us how much the town was spending renovating the 19th century town hall. Afterwards, we looked at another mural and then had to head back to the road. Before leaving I had compiled an extensive playlist for the trip and on day one, hooked up my iPod to the car audio system. It recognised the iPod and then stuck at ‘indexing’. This has never happened before but after a quick internet search it seems I am not alone. Many people have had problems with Ford’s system and their iPhone or mp3 player. The suggested solution was either to reset the system or remove the fuse: I would do this in my car but not in a rental car. So we are stuck with the radio – with the inevitable adverts and having to find yet another station as we move away from their signals. It reminds me of a trip to New England about 16 years ago when our son had acquired a Simpsons CD and we were stuck with that for 2,500 miles.

Back on R30 there are plenty of shredded tyres by the road and the occasional roadkill corpse, mostly raccoons. We are still not far from the railway, mostly used by freight trains and tracks often running through the middle of town. After Van Wert, a wind farm: some people in the USA are moving away from oil.
Winffarm Van Wert 30 June 2016-1
Woodland reappeared after crossing the state line into Indiana and driving through Fort Wayne. Malise Ruthven in his book The Divine Supermarket published in 1991, describes a ‘gruelling drive across the plains of Indiana and Illinois, which took the better part of a night and day. It had been an endless, monotonous landscape of browning fields and telephone lines, relieved occasionally by the occasional giant silo that shimmered in the heat like some distant cathedral. There were no animals in sight, and the only humans were solitary males in checked shirts and baseball caps hunched over the steering wheels of massive trucks. All the interest was in the sky, where the forces of nature were battling it out in thunderstorms that produced sudden, uncanny gusts of wind and hailstorms the size of walnuts’.
LH sign 30 June 2016-1
I cannot say that I agree with him as we have found plenty of things of interest, here in Indiana and on previous drives through Illinois where we are heading on Saturday. Today’s best road sign was one advertising the waiting time at the local ER – only 21 minutes. Near Etna Green, we saw two Amish women crossing the road on a tandem and near Plymouth, an extensive cement mixer graveyard. There are lots of adverts for fireworks as 4th July approaches. Shortly before diverting from the Lincoln Highway near Valparaiso, we crossed into the Central time zone and gained an hour. The diversion is to spend tomorrow hiking in the Indiana Dunes State Park as a change from driving. We met horrendous roadworks on our way to Chesterton and having picked up trail maps at the Visitors’ Centre, are now settled into our hotel.

Into Ohio and wandering around Wooster

Today was not a long drive and we got out of Pittsburgh without too much difficulty (just one closed road to divert around). On CBS news this morning there have been storms and flooding in Denver so I am hoping that we will still be able to do some day hikes in the Rockies when we get there. Just before the Ohio River and the state line we crossed another summit: Stewart Hill 1263 ft. We felt quite at home in this part of the world: East Liverpool announced it is the Pottery City of the USA and other towns in the area were New Manchester, Chester and Glasgow. Soon after, however we saw signs to Calcutta and East Palestine. Today was the first sign advertising a local rodeo. This morning’s coffee stop was the Steel Trolley Diner in Lisbon OH which also has a mural:
Steel Trolley Diner Lisbon OH 29 June 2016-1
Mural Lisbon OH 29 June 2016-1
This part of Eastern Ohio has a lot of woodland but further on, Amish farmland reappears.
Farmland East OH 29 June 2016-1
Entering Canton, a prominent pawn shop advertises guns and loans on the same sign. Just as we were entering Wooster (our destination for tonight), a bird which I think was a Sharp-Shinned Hawk took off from a fence post at the side of the road. Wooster has antique and secondhand shops, a music shop, a shop selling new books and a great secondhand bookstore where I restricted myself to buying one book. It’s a great place to potter around and all the locals were very friendly. They are all enjoying the breeze as apparently it is usually much more hot and humid at this time of year.
There is even a cafe run by a guy from Kilmarnock (where James worked in the 1980s) and his wife who is American. We had a great time chatting with them and they even sell Irn Bru. Tonight I will be having my birthday dinner at the Asian Fusion restaurant in town which only opened last week as tomorrow is a longer drive.